How Soon Can You Get Pregnant After Giving Birth?

This can vary from woman to woman, but depending on the circumstances, it can be as soon as a matter of weeks. Read on as we take a closer look at conception after pregnancy, and how soon this can happen. We’ll also look at breastfeeding as a method of birth control, and the various options you can consider when you’re ready to start having sex again after the birth of your baby.

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Having sex after giving birth

When you start having sex again after giving birth is a very personal choice, and it shouldn’t be forced until it feels right. You may experience pain during sex if you’re not comfortable with it. It can be a good idea to use personal lubricants as the body's natural lubricants can be affected by your hormones after you’ve given birth. If sex does feel uncomfortable or painful, communicate with your partner about this, forcing yourself to do it if it doesn’t feel right can make sex feel like a chore and can stop you from enjoying it. 

How soon do you ovulate after giving birth?

How soon you can get pregnant after giving birth comes down to when you ovulate. Depending on the circumstances, this can happen as soon as three weeks after you give birth. You can be fertile before you get your first period again, so if you want to prevent pregnancy, it’s a good idea to start thinking about contraceptive options early. Whether you choose a birth control method that’s hormonal, non-hormonal, long-acting, or one-time-use is up to you, but some of these options require you to wait a bit longer after giving birth before you can use them.

How soon can you get pregnant after giving birth while breastfeeding?

Did you know that breastfeeding can be used as a method of birth control? This is called the lactational amenorrhoea method, or LAM for short. Breastfeeding can only be used as a birth control method for up to six months after pregnancy, and only if it is the only way you are feeding your baby (that means you aren’t supplementing feeds with formula milk or giving any solid foods to your baby). 

Breastfeeding should also no longer be used as a birth control method if there are longer gaps between feeds, or you stop night feeding. If your period starts, or you notice light spotting, it’s also an indication that you may be fertile again and may need to consider other options.

Starting birth control after pregnancy

If you don’t decide to go down the LAM route, you may need to consider other birth control options if you want to avoid pregnancy after giving birth. You should have the opportunity to discuss these with your doctor before leaving the hospital, but it’s always good to keep in mind that you have a selection of options, from long-lasting hormonal options to one-time-use hormone-free ones and everything in-between. 

Using IUDs after giving birth

There are two types of IUD: hormonal and copper. You may be able to get fitted with one of these within the first 48 hours after giving birth. IUDs are safe to use while breastfeeding and won’t interfere with milk production. If you don’t get the IUD fitted within the first 2 days, you may be advised to wait a further four weeks. IUDs are a long-acting birth control option that needs to be both fitted and removed by a medical professional.

Using the implant or contraceptive injection after giving birth

You can get started with either the birth control injection or the contraceptive implant straight away after giving birth and these methods don’t affect breastfeeding. The implant is a long-acting birth control method that’s also more than 99% effective with both typical and perfect use. The birth control injection, on the other hand, needs to be given around every twelve weeks by a healthcare professional, and is 96% effective with typical use and more than 99% effective with perfect use.

Using condoms after giving birth

Whether you choose to use them for the long run, or just in the interim, you can use condoms as soon as you are ready to have sex after giving birth. There are two types of condoms available, the female condom (worn inside the vagina), and the male condom (worn on the penis), both help prevent the spread of STis. Male condoms are 87% effective with typical use and 98% effective with perfect use.

Using Natural Cycles after giving birth

If you’re not breastfeeding or are only partially breastfeeding, we recommend starting to use Natural Cycles one or two months after giving birth. You should be aware that you will be given red (fertile) days in the app until your first ovulation is confirmed and you should use condoms or abstain from sex until that happens. Natural Cycles works by identifying your fertile window so you know which days in your cycle you can get pregnant. If you are breastfeeding full time, we recommend starting with Natural Cycles around four or five months after giving birth. Natural Cycles is 93% effective with typical use and 98% effective with perfect use.

Using the progesterone-only pill after giving birth

You can start using the progesterone-only pill (also known as the mini pill), three weeks after you have given birth. Unlike the regular birth control pill, this version doesn’t contain any synthetic estrogen, instead, it only contains synthetic progesterone. The progesterone-only pill is 93% effective with typical use and more than 99% effective when used perfectly. 

Using the combined birth control pill after giving birth

You should wait for six weeks after giving birth before you should start taking birth control pills. The same goes for other birth control options containing synthetic estrogen hormone, such as the vaginal ring and the contraceptive patch. The combined pill has the same effectiveness rate as the progesterone-only pill, it's 93% effective with typical use and more than 99% effective with perfect use.

Know your options

There are no wrong or right decisions when it comes to the decisions you make about your own body. What is important is knowing all your options so you can make an informed choice. Before you leave the hospital you should get the opportunity to have a conversation about the birth control options available to you. In the meantime, why not find out if Natural Cycles could work as a birth control option for you?

Discover the world's first birth control app.

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Written By

Jennifer Gray

A writer with a passion for women’s health, Jennifer Gray has years of experience writing about various reproductive health topics including birth control, planning pregnancy, women’s anatomy, and so much more.

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Scientifically Reviewed

Jack Pearson

With 10 years of experience working in the field of fertility, Jack Pearson is Natural Cycles’ in-house expert. As Medical Affairs Manager, he dedicates his time to conducting groundbreaking research and educating healthcare professionals.